Not for the half-hearted

Christopher Ryan reviews Shane Jagger's book of poems

The title of Shane’s book, My Heart Is Too Big For My Pacemaker, is both a key to the content which follows, and a perfect poem. Shane ‘Wakil’ Jagger worked for twenty five years as the cook at Chisholme House, and his poems, like his cooking, are true to the words of the great chef Escoffier, faites simple – keep it simple. Without the panoply of clever metaphors and complex spicy combinations, his words demand an attunement of an inner ear, for his ideas are presented as simple facts and straight forward ideas which transform into tastes at once subtle and unadorned, simple and refined.

Each poem seems to announce itself as a singular event, as if born an orphan in time expressing already its yearning for eternity. And this sense of yearning is contagious, as in the poem Born where the arriving human emergence is described as:

straight from the source
nameless, silent
and a great presence of beauty

In Love he returns us to the love which ‘always remains the greatest mystery’; and in Held he again tells us this love is ‘a different love’, yet this same love, he reassures us, though a mystery, holds us, strengthening, forgiving, so we have ‘no fear for future times’.

His compassion for the human condition is uncompromising and fully generous, as in Who You Are, where he reminds us to be our selves ‘beyond the facade...untouched by fault’, again returning us to who we are known to be in the eternal essence.

Shane Jagger’s are not poems for the half-hearted, though they are certainly a restorative for the broken-hearted lovers whose yearning is for those mysterious beauties beyond the world’s more obvious attractions, and whose hearts outpace even the pacemakers.

Christopher Ryan
Hawick, 2016

Christopher Ryan is the author of The Story of the Damascus Drum and the owner, with his wife Frances, of the Damascus Drum café and bookshop.

Read more about Shane Jagger on